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Nigerian Families Share Their Biggest Monthly Expense

Expenses across Nigerian households can differ for a multitude of reasons. While some expenses are barely noticed, others take a chunk of the monthly budget. From sorting baby needs to feeding the family, these four Nigerian families share their most expensive monthly expenses. 

“We spend more on our baby than anything else” — Uloma

Before Uloma gave birth, food was the most expensive expense her household had. “We spent about ₦40,000 on food,” she said. “The amount is less when my husband travels because I don’t cook a lot.” All of that changed with the birth of their son. 

“After giving birth, we had to stop taking sachet water and switch to bottled water,” she said. “We buy 20 packs of water in a month, 25 packs if we have a lot of guests. That costs about 25,000.” But water packs weren’t the only changes made. 

“We spend ₦23,800 every two weeks on baby food and milk,” she said. That’s about ₦47,600 every month.” Uloma admits that her household also spends more money on laundry because her baby is learning to walk. “I change his clothes twice a day before bedtime.”

“No item on our grocery list cost as much as a box of diapers” — Wummi* 

Parenting a toddler is 10% keeping them alive, 20% protecting their surroundings from them and 70% cleaning their messes. Wummi* lives in Canada with her partner and their young daughter. She tells us diapers are her household’s most expensive purchase. 

“Our weekly grocery shopping is 85% food items. No single item on the list cost as much as a box of diapers,” she said. Wummi’s family spends $35 on each box of diapers, “Even though we buy it once a month, it still annoys me whenever I have to add it to the grocery list. To think all it does is hold urine and poo.”

“I spend 15% of my salary repaying a debt” — Esther

When Esther’s husband retired in 2020, they decided to start a small business in front of their home. After combining their savings with loans taken from friends, everything came up to about ₦800,000. Unfortunately, the business went under after ten months. 

“We bought a big freezer and stocked up the shop,” Esther said. “Soon, many people opened the same kind of shop on our street. About six other people were also selling provisions.” The couple decided to shut down the business to focus on paying their debts. Esther tells us that in addition to providing for the family, she has to service the loans. “I’m a civil servant who earns less than ₦200,000, yet I have to spend ₦30,000 out of that money repaying debts.” Esther is set to finish paying off by April.

Feeding a family of four with ₦70,000” — Rosemary

With two children and a partner, Rosemary’s biggest monthly expense is food. “You have to eat every day,” she said. “You can’t decide to leave it till next month to save up.” From regular meals to healthy snacks for everyone, Rosemary breaks down her feeding plan for the month. 

“There’s the regular Nigerian home food — garri, rice, beans. There’s food for the kids — cerelac, peak 234, potatoes, couscous,” she said. For days when there’s an outing, she said, “There’s an extra budget for suya, grilled fish, Chinese, breakfast buffets and the likes.” Her household spends at least ₦70,000 on food monthly.

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